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Unison members split on NHS pensions


A ballot of Unison members on the government’s NHS pension reform plan has failed to deliver a clear verdict, the union has announced.

Members were almost evenly split with 50.4% voting to reject the pensions deal and 49.5% voting to accept the offer.

The turnout was low with just 14.8% of the eligible 373,000 members voting.

The result fails to deliver the “clear rejection” the union had said it would need to take sustained industrial action.

Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea, who had urged members to deliver a clear verdict during the union’s health conference in Brighton last week, described the result as disappointing.

She said: “The low turnout coupled with the close vote shows there is no mandate to endorse the pensions’ proposals, but equally no mandate to take further industrial action.

“We need to consider the next steps in the pensions campaign and we will be talking to the other health unions.”

She said the turnout was “disappointing” but “reflects the low morale and current difficult state of the NHS”. She said members’ morale was low due to the pay freeze, job cuts, poorer terms and conditions and the Health Act.

The Unite union has announced industrial action on 10 May after its members voted by 94 to six per cent to reject the government’s offer. The union’s turnout was 24.6%.

The Royal College of Nursing achieved a turnout of just 16.9% in February, with 62% voting to reject the deal and 37% voted to accept it.

The British Medical Association is due to ballot its members later this month on whether they want to take industrial action for the first time since 1975.


Readers' comments (13)

  • I am disappointed that nurses cant be bothered to vote on issues which are highly pertinent to the quality of career lives they will have today, tomorrow and in the distant future. When the RCH balloted its members over pension reforms there was a similar poor turnout. The RCN made it very easy as well to participate - one was able to vote via e-mail, over the phone, or through post. Yet only 16% or so of its members bothered voting. This is a very big concern. The ones that did vote had voted in favour of the pension changes - do you have any clue what that means? That means retiring at 68 for some of us! I have said it before and I will say it again and Im not afraid of it. Nurses are a bunch of wet rags who are taking this abuse without a fight or a slight challenge. What are you all expecting out there? For Prince charming the banker to marry you so you wont have to work anymore? Im sorry but how can London Underground employees retire at 60 start on £30 000 as a customer service staff member when nurses (us) are slaving away behind the text books and taking more demands from Granddad NHS! Wake up and smell the coffee nurses and get involved! Vote for crying out lous and stop feeling sorry for yourselves. Its a disgrace so many of you cannot even be bothered to express yourselves through participating in the ballot. Shame on you nurses. Dont blame the NHS! Blame yourselves because you just dont care do you?

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  • Pathetic and disgraceful. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. The profession is as good as dead.

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  • Pathetic and disgraceful. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. The profession is as good as dead.

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  • mike | 1-May-2012 10:54 am

    there has been a desperate mike hunt going on ever since the beginning of the year!

    where have you been? you don't have to answer but your NT fans have missed you!

    guesses: (1) is that you have taken over some highly lofty and elevated position in nursing leadership in one of the organisations (2) have emigrated and taken up post in Australia (3) neither of these!

    Good luck wherever!

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  • Mike 1-May-2012 10:54am

    You are alive! we have missed your witty and accurate comments over the last few months. Or have you been commenting under anonymous and pressed the wrong button.
    Yes I agree the profession is as good as dead.

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  • tinkerbell

    Welcome back Mike, NHS/nursing as we knew it will be dead as a dodo VERY soon. Out in greece at the moment and their nurses are having their wages halved overnight apparently and no one can say that the greeks haven't tried to protest against all the austerity measures.

    UK nurses certainly haven't even tried to make a united stand and worse is yet to come because now this unelected government know they can do whatever they like with us.

    A greek builder told me that what is happening to this country is 'frightening'. He has elderly relatives that need treatment and has to pay 2000 euros up front, on the day, if he wants treatment to start.

    Goodby to OUR NHS, looks like we're all going down the same road when we once had a society that cared in the UK until these unelected money grabbing tory spivs took over regardless of any other government in the past it was never this bad and worse is yet to come.

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  • Totally agree - nurses never stick together and seem to expect someone else to stand up for them. Spineless. During the run up to the march 30th strike I could not believe the number of nurses I heard moaning about the pension proposals but whining that that couldn't afford to lose a days pay. We are our own worst enemies. The profession is dead in the water as far as I'm concerned. My Trust is is considering using more APs and HCAs rather than RNs. We don't get the respect or reward we deserve and that is largely our own fault. Lie down and don't be surprised if people walk over you.

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  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference [Paperback]
    Malcolm Gladwell

    perhaps a reading of this book followed by action all together is what is required

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  • tinkerbell | 1-May-2012 1:04 pm

    Told you tink,

    Low turn-out again and we roll over and wait to have our bottoms smacked.

    Welcom back Mike, we`ve missed you.

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  • you all deserve what you get now good luck with loosing more pay, working until your 70!!

    the unions have tried there best and you have stuck two fingers up to them

    the nhs is dead and so is your proffession

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